Alexa's getting a news anchor speaking voice so it can read headlines to you like a pro — listen here

Photo: ABC News 24/screengrab
  • Amazon has developed a new voice for its AI-assistant Alexa which sounds more like a news anchor, The Verge reports.
  • It did this by training neural text-to-speech technology on audio recordings of real newsreaders to pick up on their inflections and nuances.
  • The result is still a little robotic, but recognisably more like a newsreader than Alexa’s standard voice.

Amazon has been working on a new voice for Alexa to make it sound more like a news anchor, which it says customers prefer when listening to the AI-assistant reading out headlines.

The Verge reports that Amazon developed this new voice by combining neural text-to-speech technology (or NTTS) with recording audio clips from real newscasters.

Here’s Alexa regular voice, reading an article about the Grand Central terminal opening in San Francisco:

Listen here to Amazon’s NTTS-trained newsreader voice:

The result is still somewhat robotic, but includes some of the inflections often used by newsreaders.

Read more: Microsoft’s voice-recognition tech is now better than even teams of humans at transcribing conversations

Trevor Wood, who oversees the application of AI in text-to-speech at Amazon, told The Verge: “It’s difficult to describe these nuances precisely in words, and a data-driven approach can discover and generalize these more efficiently than a human.”

Amazon said it only required a few hours of data to teach Alexa to talk like a newscaster. It will be launching the new voice on enabled devices in a few weeks’ time.

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